FREMONT – Reports around the state continue to come in regarding an increase in the cases of Influenza this year.
Three River Public Health Department has released they also have seen an increase in the number of cases in Dodge, Washington, and Saunders Counties. Their executive director Terra Uhing says the entire state of Nebraska is currently at a “widespread” level.
“The flu has increased significantly over the past couple of weeks,” stated Uhing. “Right now the flu level in the state of Nebraska is at ‘widespread.’ This means we are seeing widespread flu activity across the entire state.”
So far this flu season there have been 62 laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza in the three counties the department covers. 53 of those cases have been for Influenza A and the other nine for Influenza B.
Uhing says flu shots are still available and it’s never too late to get one. She adds this season the Influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been predominant in the U.S.
“I keep getting the question about the flu shot and it not being very effective. What we know is that we are seeing a lot of the A(H3N2) virus,” explained Uhing. “That virus can actually make people sicker for even longer. So the flu vaccine is still the number one best way to help prevent the flu, even though it’s not an immediate effect. It still is your best preventative method.”
Three Rivers also does weekly surveillance with long-term care facilities, hospitals, and schools to track the flu activity level in their district. Uhing says since students have recently returned to school they have continued to receive reports of children coming to school with flu-like symptoms.
“We continue to get reports of illness with kids having fevers and that type of thing,” said Uhing. “It’s a great time to remind parents that if their kids are running a fever or have a significant cough, make sure you are keeping them home. Maybe check with your medical provider. Especially if they are running a temperature.”
There has been one reported Influenza outbreak at a long-term care facility within the Three Rivers district. Uhing says with this high increase she suspects the flu season could also be prolonged compared to previous years.
“I also look for the flu season to maybe even last longer this year. Typically we peak at the end of January or the first or second week of February,” said Uhing. “That’s typically when we peak with Influenza. But we’re at the first week of January and we’re seeing significant increases.”
Uhing says anyone who develops flu-like symptoms and/or are concerned about their illness should consult their healthcare provider, especially if you are at a high-risk for complications.
“The people at high-risk for the flu include our older population, young kids who are not able to get flu shots, and people with compromised immune systems,” said Uhing. “I tell people every year that I get the flu shot not only for me and my family, but I do it for the other people around me. Because there are some that can’t get the flu shot.”
Three Rivers still has a plentiful supply of the flu vaccine. Anyone interested can contact them at (402) 727-5396.
Some good health habits and hygiene practices people can follow to prevent the flu and other illnesses include:
- Washing your hands often to help protect you from germs.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible.
- Keep your distance from others when you are sick, to protect them from becoming infected.
- Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick, if possible, to prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of hands to help prevent the spread of germs to others.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are often spread when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.